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Ministry of Education Explains its Position on Islamic Education and Philosophy

Moroccan Islamic Education: An Unsuccessful Reform?

Rabat – Following the controversy over the disparagement of philosophy in an Islamic educational textbook, the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training has issued a communiqué, rebutting Moroccan reactions and explaining the latest reform of Islamic educational textbooks.

The ministry’s communiqué begins with comments regarding feedback from the Moroccan public. The statement suggests that public opinion largely concerns only one textbook and is, therefore, not an accurate representation of educational textbook reform in general.

The current uproar began with objections about the content contained in a single chapter titled Philosophy and Faith, from the textbook ‘Manar At-Tarbia Al-Islamiya.’  The textbook is used for instructing first year baccalaureate students.

The communique goes on to explain further, that “the issue is related to one passage in ‘Manar At-tarbia Al-Islamiya,’ which offended some as an example of what the textbook emphatically considers as an aggressive stand against philosophy. The passage is preceded by questions to orient the students and prompt them to compare the content of this aggressive stand with another passage that considers critical thinking as device to reach the truth.”

In its own defense, the ministry continues explaining that the textbook was chosen as a tool for teaching students the method for and value of critical thinking, while under the supervision of professors. It is felt that it is far better to broach sensitive topics openly and in the context of an educational environment, rather than to ignore them, in the hope of minimizing the effects of radicalization. “Those sensitive topics that are prone to push the students to adopt extreme stands,” the statement is quoted as stating.

The ministry goes on to add that “philosophy is privileged in the current syllabus. It is approached as compulsory subjects should be taught to the students in high school.”

The reform of Islamic Educational textbooks followed the instructions of King Mohammed VI to review Moroccan textbooks to ensure that they adhere to the precepts of Islam and the Maliki Sunni rite, which advocates moderation, tolerance and coexistence with other religions and cultures.

Edited by Constance Guindon

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